Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Other Brother

Erin and I had a delightful night out for her birthday last night. We
decided to head out to out old stomping ground in Guelph starting with
a trip to UofG's annual Christmas Craft fair (Fair November) and then
dinner at what is probably our favourite restaurant, The Other
Brother. Not like there are any bad tables, but we had a special table
beside the gas fire place, where we enjoyed a parade of taste
delights. We always choose the chefs surprise when we go, six courses
of mystery, each one a pleasure for the eyes, nose and mouth. I think
summing it up was dessert, a white chocolate mocha mousse, a milk
chocolate mousse and dark chocolate curl with a caramel drizzle. If
your mouth isn't watering now, see if this visual helps:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Is Algebra Necessary

Adam Hayes - New York Times
On the surface this article offends me, I found out about it on CBC Radio's Sunday Edition.  Erin and I looked at one another in horror as mathematics were derided by our national broadcaster.  The calmer side of my intellect can recognize rhetoric to ignite a conversation, and maybe that is all this is.  Still I find my lost in this issue, if we abandon our demands that students learn Algebra, how can we reasonably expect them to learn other sciences.  Even many trades rely on algebra, but the article does call out a US Educator who has "Machine Room Math" as a course.  So maybe what should be called to question is not what we teach but how.  

At the University of Guelph, the calculus word problems were always conspicuously agrarian in example, as the only University in Ontario teaching Agriculture (and don't make that face, if you want to be a good farmer it actually is a both physically and mentally demanding job, more then worthy of a degree granting institution.  PS Farmers Feed Cities!)  So perhaps it is condescending to phrase your classic calculus problem in terms of optimizing the area of a barn yard to maximize the grazing area for cattle, but while the content of the course is the same the metaphor for teaching it makes it simpler for the students by touching on something that the experientially understand. 

So, while I'm leery of giving up math, as I see it is directly related to all the sciences, maybe the key is that we need ensure our students have numeracy, and science literacy first, and then more complex topics later.

My own concern, and this is paternalistic, there are a number of pressures facing students in high school, not the least of which is the need for good grades to enter university and qualify for scholarships.  There are also the pressures from our friends to be smart, but not to be a nerd (heaven forfend).  Many a student if given the choice between I dare say "easy math" vs the more complex subjects, may choose the route that seems easiest, and by the time that students is recognized for an aptitude for STEM disciplines, they may have already have put those areas of study beyond their own reach by failing to accumulate the prerequisites.  Only the most dedicated will make the switch, as additional years of learning can be prohibitively expensive.

Back to what I mentioned about science litaracy though, it is a long time joke around that house that Erin and I are both Mathamaticians, that is clearly not a stretch for a computer scientist, but you say "Erin is a Microbiologist, and Biochemist?"  Well as the joke goes, biology is applied chemistry, chemistry is applied physics and physics is applied math, QED.  

Randall Munroe - XKCD
So the issue with science is that it is startling how little people know or understand about science, and how in their ignorance how they are tricked.  First off lets just gesture to the heated war between science and religion all over North America, where we dare not speak the E word for fear of offending, but if those same people maybe attended and paid a little more attention in Biology,  they may be able to parse the language on the bottles of snake oil that is being sold to them and appreciate how absurd things like homeopathy are.  Or that absurdity of Autism being induced by vaccination, as opposed to the much more desirable out come like less infant death and horrible disease.  

I'm not going to go about gesticulate wildly or go on any more tirades, like how denying vaccination is child abuse (oh wait there I go again) I just wanted some firm examples about how people fundamental lack of understanding of biology alone leaves them vulnerable to manipulation by self proclaimed experts, as these people lack the tools to critically analyze the information against a frame of reference.

So in summation:
1. Math good, teach math gooder, not less
2. Educate for the sake of education, not as a means to a job (the article talks to that better then I did justice)
3. Teach people to live in our complex world, it isn't going to get simpler, and closing your eyes is not going to work.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

I just saw a Dinosaur... Attacking My Cat!

And I used augmented reality to bring him to life! I took this photo with the app "ROM Ultimate Dinosaurs", free from the App Store. (He's part of a dino exhibition - more at

sent on behalf of Geoffrey Peart by the Modrons who plumb the tubes of the interwebosphere..

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Human Life is Precious

I've been toying with an idea of late, every time I see a car driving aggressively or erratically, just the needless risk taking that jeopardizes other motorists and pedestrians. The idea that some how when we get behind the wheel of our cars we dehumanize everything on the road, taking for granted that in those other cars, and walking down the road are sentient human beings, regardless of age, each one is precious and irreplaceable.  We only have a finite amount of time here, and I plan on making the most of it, and I really don't want some ones urgency to get to the drive thru for coffee to put that at risk.

We all have seen the ageist little signs that enshrine the specialness of having in your vehicle an infant, and I've considered, what one internet denizen has already published here, and I've copied for illustration putting a sign like this on my car:
cropped and presented with out permission, all rights belong to linked creator.

Where this once in a blue moon blog post has surged from, is not the callousness or crazed behaviour of drivers, but the reckless, and sociopathic disregard for human life shown by two idiots at a block party last night.  It was the lead story on the CBC this morning, and the splashed all over the Toronto Star.  The police cheif's made a statement, with shock and weariness in his voice that this was 'the worst incident of gun violence ever' I think he left it qualified 'in North America.'

I find myself, with some caveats agreeing.  The caveats, and I think he meant them as well, is that this isn't to lesson or take away from horrific crimes which have occurred with guns, the Montreal and Columbine shootings for example.  Those were horrible crimes, which involved fire arms, but were premeditated.  This was a crime that was the kind of spontaneous* violence that occurs when people stop considering each other (and likely themselves) to have any value. It is the reckless and thoughtless decision making without a care for consequence or society.  It takes an iota of self work and conscience to say "I'm in a crowded place lets take this some where else.  Never mind the more sophisticated processing that says "This just isn't worth fighting about" and walking away.. 

This isn't a cry for gun control** but a plea for some humanism, humanism in the street, in the car, and in life.  Recognize the people around you as people, recognize yourself as a person, and realize that the golden rule is as relevant a rule today as it ever has been.

* not with standing the premeditation that occurs when you strap a loaded hand gun on and go out in to the public, you obviously mean for it to be there for some purpose?

** I really don't see why people need the right to own a handgun, I'm sure they are fun to target shoot with, but the hand gun is really a single purpose item, it is design for compact people killing, and target shooting is just practice for the real thing.  Long guns are more general purpose, and difficult to conceal.  They have clear sporting value, and permit the enjoyment of marksmanship as well.  That all being said, I do realize that the majority of handgun crime is done with illegally owned handguns, and that out and out banning of handguns wouldn't necessarily solve the problem.  It is too bad ammunition can so easily be manufactured in the home, otherwise Chris Rock's approach to ammunition control might work.

Sunday, July 01, 2012


Today Bryan saw some flies and wanted to get a closer look at them, so mommy caught them and we put them in the bug jar. Then Bryan made a pipe cleaner fly, and Evie and Bryan coloured flies pictures.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday, June 05, 2012


Radioactive spider-kid!

Playing at the Park

Lots of fun playing at the park last week. Wish the weather would warm up again - although Bryan likes the 'rain park' just fine.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Farmer's Market Season!

We went to our first Farmer's Market of the year and it was fun! We
got some veggies too, not just cupcakes.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mother's Day

I love having family photos, because the kids are growing so fast it's always amazing to compare this year to those before it. This Mother's Day photo was a bit harder to get than in the past, because we were trying to get two mobile children to stay put! I think it's the second photo that was shot and things just deteriorated from here.

Bryan's shirt says "BIG BRO" and Evie's "Little Sister." In retrospect I'm not sure why I felt like I needed to label them (it's pretty obvious based on size who is older)! Oh well. Just a note for myself for next year that it's probably ok to just dress them in their normal clothes.

I had a great Mother's Day because we got to visit with both sides of the family and the kids were really good. On Saturday we saw Geoff's parents and grandparents, and celebrated Andy's birthday too. On Sunday just after my parents came over, I heard the ice cream truck and we all got treats to eat outside in the back yard. Evie stole my ice cream and ran around for a while with TWO full cones, one of which ended up on her shirt (of course). But the shirt washed out and everyone had a really nice dinner, with both Bryan and Evie behaving like really nice gentle-persons.

I'm hoping for lots of fun this upcoming long weekend, too!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

My GM Valet Underconstruction

Can you not feel the potential as this skid of wood gets stored in the
warehouse, and the pathos oh the pathos...

But seriously, I asked teasingly of the good folks over at for a stats update on my table, and
obligingly they sent along this image and some kindly teasing of there
own. I really really really can't wait until I get the my first piece
of furniture from them, but it is all in preparation for the next
piece, which is 5 years or a lottery ticket out. Still it is what
I've built the basement for, so you know... If you build it...

sent on behalf of Geoffrey Peart by the Modrons who plumb the tubes of
the interwebosphere..

Monday, April 30, 2012

Hey, your camera works better then mine

Teaching Evie Animal Sounds

We've been working with Evie to teach her animal sounds, and I wanted to make sure she got the most important ones.  So we finally hung my gallery of monster illustrations I picked up at FanExpo last year.
The Beholder says Zorch
The Owlbear says Woot
The Displacer Beast says Mew

The Gelatinous Cube says Blub
The Umber Hulk says Klik

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Basement illuminated

Well the basement is getting there, and this weekend so a lot of spit and polish.  We finished the second coat of paint, and there is a little bit of touch up to do, but we will wait until the end to do that.  We also finally wired up all the wall sconces.  Those have been a long time coming, and they fill the room with light (okay, it might be a bit too much light, but one of the principle goals of the room is a games room, and for that we need light.

From this point there is a couple plugs left to wire, and none of the plugs are hooked up to breakers yet.  That takes care of electrical, short of the light fixtures that don't exist yet. 

Next step is floor and trim, we have a bunch of carpet samples, and I think we've settled on one, we are just waiting on a price and setting up the install.  After carpet is trim, and I'm having a devil of a time with a contractor, so I'm looking for a second or third quote, because the first guy has fallen off the face off there earth.  I'm hoping that ~3 weeks and we done.  So yeah!

Maybe when I'm not spending every free moment in the basement, I'll get back to being more social :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cooking Like a Pro

Dinner tonight looked like something out of a cookbook, so I thought
I'd capture it for no good reason

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Valentines for Daddy

Evie and I got photos for Geoff just before Valentines. It was a rough
start to the day, but the photos came out better than I thought!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Never too sick for the park!

Evie is home sick today with a cold, but the weather is so nice we
still went to the park and she had lots of fun (until she didn't).

Sunday, March 04, 2012

As you enter from the foyer

What Erin likes to call the Under Kitchen, I hate to quibble, but it is more a kitchenette.

Looking back at the entrance, and the pocket door

Main room, debris strewn

"hallway" to bathroom

Art niche, and horrifying tangle of wires which belong to the three-way

Looking back at the other half of the main room and the under kitchen

Basement Progress

I know it has been an age and a day since I've last posted with any seriousness, and not the least of which was about the progress of my major project, aka the basement. The reason I've been quite is because I've been working on it nearly every chance I've had, and them collapsing with exhaustion after. I took this past week off to get some work done, and I can tell by the way my muscles have been feeling at night that they think I've accomplished a lot. I, afraid I have no pictures, because with the way I'm working, by the time I'm done for the day the light is too dim for anything decent, but here goes.

In the last week I've:

  •  finished drywalling the entire main room area, ceiling included, 
  • plumbed the extra water lines, 
  • hung two out of four doors 
  • got all the electrical rough-ins finished. 
 The doors are the most frustrating story on two counts, the first is that I hired a contractor to hang them, and he never showed up, on the plus side, I hadn't payed yet, but I really hate doors from past experience, so I had been happy to pay to let someone else deal with them. The other part of the story is that the one pocket door I hung I had prepared the opening about 0.02 m to small and had to break it down and rebuild it on the spot. Now that it is done it is a pretty cool door, but it ate most of a day just hanging it. The other issue with the pocket door is I had to cut the door's height down to fit. I cut it exclusively from the bottom, and I think it makes the door a little ugly. I have a second pocket door to hang (whose opening also needs to be fixed) I will experiment with trimming its door more evenly from top and bottom and hope it looks better.

So major task left before I finish this phase (this phase being the rough drywalling):

  • hang two more doors
  • 3-4 odd cut sheets of drywall in the main area
  • electrical in the bathroom
  • framing the bathroom ceiling
  • drain stack for the under kitchen 
  • drain stack for the bathroom sink
  • drywall the bathroom 
That sound like a lot when I type it all out, but it hardly compares with what is accomplished. I am actually tentatively going to abandon the bathroom work other them the one wall I have to do for fire safety, and leave if to the far future.

After this is all done comes two parts I can't do my self:

  • Mudding and taping 
  • Trim 

Somewhere in there I will paint, and there is a shelf for the art niche I need to build and stain. After that is all done, it is electrical finalization, and inspection, and carpet. All told I'm a lottery ticket and a couple months away from being done. I suspect end of May or at the latest July, if any one wants any birthday suggestions I can point you to my local lighting store where I've picked out my ceiling fixtures. Anyways that is the update, I hacked this out on a touch screen, so I'm sure autocorrect has enhanced my normal poor spelling and grammar to near unreadable heights. I will see what I can do about pictures later.

Friday, March 02, 2012

A trip to the park

The kids and I went to the park last night after pickup from daycare. Bryan likes to have something special on each day of the week, and Thursday has been my issue for a while

-- nothing that special about Thursdays! So I decided it can be Family Fitness & Game day. It was a bit cold, but I suppose the weather should be generally improving in the future.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Basement Progress

We turned a corner in the basement this weekend, more literally then
figuratively. Progress had ground to a near halt since Daryl
November, those who had talked to me know that work had taken over my
waking hours, and also made my waking hours about 25-50% longer. For
the now reduced sleeping hours I have spent on boggy and other
childhood fluid management tasks. So the basement languished in low

This weekend Bryan had a super-fun sleepover at his Myam's (who I
imagine slumped to sleep early last night), which gave Erin and I a
chance to work through some naps. Erin as effective as ever is quite
good with the drywall, her drilling technique is some what unique
though. So we finished all the fiddle bits on the long wall and
started the easy ones on the niche wall. The area in the niche is
slightly more complete the shown here, and the HRV is finally back
online getting some fresh air into the house.

So yeah progress!